Carbajal Advocates for Improved VA Access on Behalf of Central Coast Veterans
Testifies to Veterans’ Affairs Committee on Issues Regarding Contacting Health Clinics and Transportation to Appointments
Washington, DC – Today, Rep. Salud Carbajal (CA-24) testified before the House Veterans Affairs Committee (HVAC) highlighting significant issues with the phone system for local Veterans Affairs (VA) Community Based Outpatient Clinics (CBOCs), that provide the most common outpatient services, including health and wellness visits. He also highlighted the limited transportation provided to Central Coast veterans to attend medical appointments at the VA’s Greater Los Angeles area facilities.
“I’ve heard far too many stories of Central Coast veterans delaying the healthcare that they need and deserve out of frustration and lack of accessibility to local VA facilities,” said Rep. Carbajal. “It is my hope that with the help of Veterans’ Affairs committee, we can provide Central Coast veterans with better phone services and transportation to receive healthcare without these unacceptable obstacles.”
When veterans call CBOCs in Santa Maria, Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo, they are currently routed to the Greater Los Angeles Healthcare System. Veterans end up waiting more than an hour to be connected to a representative, if they get through at all.
Earlier this year, Carbajal met with the Director of the Greater Los Angeles Healthcare System and during that meeting called the local CBOC. They were ultimately unable connect with a representative from the CBOCs. Carbajal requested that the Committee direct the VA to alter the system so that each local CBOC receives calls.
Available local transportation to health appointments at the local CBOC is also a challenge for Central Coast veterans given their distance to a major VA Hospital in Los Angeles. Currently, there is only one bus serving the 24th District. The bus picks up veterans at the San Luis Obispo CBOC around 6:00 am, and makes stops in at the Santa Maria CBOC, Santa Barbara CBOC, and Oxnard CBOC. The veterans then have an extremely limited window to attend appointments before they are required to return to the bus for departure by 3:00pm. Carbajal requested that the Committee invest resources toward a second bus for the District as a short-term solution.
The VA estimates that there are currently 38,975 veterans residing in the 24th Congressional District.